It is not as absurd as you may think. Of all the teams in world cricket at present the West Indians are best suited to toppling the mighty Australians in tonight's final of the Champions Trophy. This has nothing to do with the fact that they have already beaten them once in this tournament. Ludicrous, right? Wrong!!
The West Indians play a style of cricket that does not suit conventional cricket thinking. They don't have many stars in the team and they play three specialist bowlers at the best of times. How could they possibly repeat their win over Australia? It's because they understand their weaknesses and adapt their strengths to the requirements of the modern one-day game.
Of the pack chasing the Aussies at present, the Indian batsmen have forgotten how to hit the ball off the square. Calling the Pakistani bowling line-up an "attack" is akin to labeling Mary Poppins a blood-thirsty animal, especially after their two fast bowling stars were caught with the juice. The Sri Lankans have disappointed me to no end in this tournament, especially after they have taken to imitating their Indian batting counterparts. The South Africans run the other way as soon as they see Australia's name against their's on the fixture list. The Kiwis need to clone Chris Cairns, quick fast and the English, pfffft. Even my cousin's under-18 team stand a better chance than the Poms.
There are five (5) crucial factors that will ensure a West Indian victory tonight:
- Brian Charles Lara - this man lives to play Australia. Forget his games against the other teams, it is the Aussies he cares about and loves to beat. For all Glen McGrath's gibberish over the years, the Australians still have not found a fool-proof mode of dismissing Lara. For once, he seems to have a team behind him with the capability of helping him with the cause.
- Chris Gayle - is that new Reebok bat a good'un, or what? The purple patch that Gayle is enjoying at present could not come in a darker shade of mauve. He is an uncanny character that has no major flaws in his makeup, other than his mind. If he comes to play, the Australians will be on a major leather hunt tonight. Don't get him talking either, word is, he just doesn't shut up.
- Part-time West Indian bowlers - they may not turn the ball square. They certainly do not exhibit the loop and guile that would do Bishen Singh Bedi proud, but they do bowl it flat and fast with just enough mystery to prevent the batsmen from hitting them out of the park with any regularity. This variety in the West Indian attack will go a long way to keeping the Australian batsmen in check.
- Shane Watson - I understand he doesn't play for the West Indies. He does, however, play a Sehwag-esque role at the top of the order that does not guarantee his side a solid beginning to the innings. Watson may be better than Katich, but then again, Geoffery Boycott's mom would do a better job than Katich. Watson's place is in the middle order. Bring back Haydos, I say.
- Brad Hogg - he is no Shane Warne, but you don't have to be in ODIs. If the only variety you have in your attack is a left arm quick, you're struggling. It is patently clear that Ricky Ponting does not rate Hogg, neither do I for that matter, and is unlikely to play him tonight. However, Hogg's presence is necessary to break up the sameness of the Australian attack. If any of the West Indian stars get settled, they will make merry with the Australian quicks. Mitchell Johnson included.
We will witness the two best teams of the tournament contesting the final tonight. I only hope for a nail-biting, thrilling contest that is befitting of the title of this tournament.
Update: At 94/5 in the 19th over, it looks like I might just have jinxed the West Indies. All hope is not lost yet. Five wickets remain with Bravo still at the crease. Lets wait and see, exactly how much of a game we are treated to from here.
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